On Kindness and Turning 6

A couple of months ago, my husband and I sat down with E's kindergarten teacher for conferences. We were eager to hear how she was doing in the classroom because at home, school was all she would talk about and she really seemed to love it. We also, completely unbiased, thought she was excelling at reading and writing but were very interested in what her teacher had to say. 

Her teacher had glowing things to say about E, academically. Meeting and exceeding expectations across the board. Of course this made us proud, but it was the next thing she said that left both of us speechless.

"Elena is a true friend of the class. She mentors other students, she encourages, she helps. The class looks to her for kindness because she is everyone's friend. If she sees someone is struggling with something, she helps them by giving them hints or explaining, not by doing. She celebrates little milestones with her classmates. She is a leader by being an example of kindness."

My daughter is kind. It is the one thing I wanted for her more than anything. I wanted her to be welcoming and encouraging and inclusive. I even wrote about this idea right before I sent her off to kindergarten: 

I hope I've taught my daughter to be assertive and not hear "bossy" and think it's a bad thing. There's nothing wrong with being in charge and having ideas. However, compromise is an equally important concept to help balance out that assertive trait. It's important to step back and let others have a turn. That's what leaders do--they aren't afraid to let others shine; they are confident enough in themselves to let others have their moments, too.
I also hope I've taught her to be confident in her ideas and not let the negative talk of others bring her down. Kids can be mean. Every single mother I know of kids (mainly girls) in the late elementary years (and especially in middle school) has a "mean girl" story. It happens. I experienced it, pretty much everyone I know has experienced it in some way. I want my daughter to be confident in herself and not let the hurtful words of others hurt her--at least not too much. Words hurt no matter how "prepared" we think we are. 
But, even more important than that, I want my daughter to NOT be a mean girl. I want her to be inclusive and loving. I want her motto to be "Do you want to sit with us?" and not "You can't sit here." 
Confident. Kind. Inclusive. Compassionate. These are the things I hope I've taught my daughter a little of before she heads off to kindergarten. 

So to hear our daughter's teacher call her a "friend of the class" and speak of how kind she is, well, it made both of her parents tear up.

Now if we could work on spreading that kindness to her brother... 

Her first year at school has been a success. She just turned 6 and she finishes kindergarten in a few weeks. It's hard to believe she'll be a first grader soon. I thought time went fast before but it's really picking up speed now. 

E and Mommy selfie on the first day of kindergarten. 

E and Mommy selfie on the first day of kindergarten. 

A few highlights from the 5th year of E's life, in her own words. Mostly.  

On School and Learning

"Children aren't perfect because they are learning. And when you are learning you make mistakes. Mistakes are part of learning."

"I know everything except for long words."

When she was telling me about MLK and learning about him at school, she explained,  "He said: 'I have a dream that all people--black, white, purple, yellow, green--are treated the same.' " And then later, still channelling MLK, "I'm going to play nice and peacefully like Dr. MLK, Jr."  {*Note: she did not, she and her brother immediately started fighting.}

E comes into the living room, crying. I jump up and ask her what's wrong. She says, "I'm just so sad. Lowercase letters can be really tricky."

And my favorite:
"I'm a girl and can do anything"
Little brother: "What about me?"
And then: "Don't worry. You're still learning."

On Star Wars

Reflecting on "The Force Awakens" and learning that Han Solo is Kylo Ren's father, she asked, "Why does he have such a mean son?"
I replied, "Sometimes people make bad choices."
Shaking her head and under her breath, to no one in particular, "VERY bad choices."

"A girl Jedi! Girls can be Jedis! This is the best movie ever!"

"I wonder why Jar Jar wasn't in more Star Wars movies."

Explaining Things

E wanted to go ice skating and asked why we had never gone before. "Mommy, I'm ready. I've been practicing for years on the floor."

"Christmas isn't for the tree and ornaments and gifts, it's for the love and care." And, later in the season, "Christmas is not about the presents, it's about the people who give the presents."

I gave E a broken chip and instinctually apologized because her brother gets upset when food is "broken." To which she responded, very casually, "It's all about the food, mom. It breaks, no big deal."

I was explaining to E that we don't want the other kids in her class to feel bad if she gives a special card to one friend, in front of them. Exasperated she replied, "MOMMY. I would NEVER make the other kids feel bad."

We had a rocky start to preschool with B, but E was there, always encouraging her brother. "It's ok Brandon, the best part of going to school is making new friends!"

I guess that kindness does get spread to her brother. 

Finally, her birthday survey.

  • Age: 6
  • Favorite Color: Purple and pink, more purple.
  • Best Friend: Kylie
  • Favorite Snack/Treat: Granola Bars
  • What do you want to be when you grow up: A regular teacher that also teaches art. "I just love art so much!"
  • Favorite Song: Blank Space by Taylor Swift
  • Favorite Movie: Frozen
  • Favorite thing to do with family: Read a story.
  • Favorite Book: "It's so hard to pick! I love all the Dr. Seuss books. And I love reading with my eyes." (Meaning: in her head, not out loud.) 
  • Favorite food for breakfast: MiniWheats
  • Favorite food for lunch: Peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich.
  • Favorite food for dinner: Turkey Burger
  • Most important thing learned so far: Adding and Subtracting
  • Favorite Toy: Barbie that has a flower dress, named Sally.
  • Are you afraid of anything: No.
  • Favorite thing to do outside: Play on the playset we have in the backyard.
  • Favorite place to visit: Target
  • Mom's favorite thing to do with you: Reading chapter books with you and reading the books you make.
  • Dad's favorite thing to do with you: Helping you with homework and reading with you. 
  • What is one thing you want for your birthday: More dolls.
  • How are you celebrating your birthday this year: Indoor park with friends from school.

My wish for E, in the coming year:

Keep that confidence, but know that it's ok to be afraid sometimes. And keep being kind. Always be kind. 

xo Sara

P.S. Here's the post I wrote before she started kindergarten and what my hopes were for her. And here is her birthday survey from last year.